Wanda refocuses on China with €266m pledged for Dalian grassroots build

May 2 – Chinese property giant Wanda Group, which in Europe has developed a sports marketing agency, is to invest €266 million into grassroots football in China.

While Chinese money in Europe has usually chased ownership of clubs, Wanda’s strategy has been more focussed on rights with its one foray into club ownership, a €45 million 20% stake in Spain’s Atletico Madrid, having been sold last year.

Now Wanda, who have been a major supporter of Chinese football since 1993, including the establishment of China’s first professional club, Dalian Wanda FC, is refocussing its money at home.

A report by Palco23 says the money will be focussed in Dalian in the north west of the country, with the build of 23 pitches and training facilities. Two of the pitches will have undersoil heating which two will be indoors with one of them having seating for 5,000.

The facilities will cater for up to 600 players and will open in December.

A further €6.5 million will be spent on strengthening football coaching and facilities at 10 primary schools in Dalian.

Wanda is still committed to Atletico Madrid, despite having sold its shares in the club, holding the naming rights to the new Wanda Metropolitano stadium that opened end of 2017, and having contributed €47 million to the build of a sports complex next to the stadium.

Wanda’s Spanish investment has generally been with a wider Chinese football development opportunity in mind. The company launching its Futuras estrellas de fútbol chino programme, which has seen more than 200 players travel to train and play in Spain, while 30 youth players aged 12 years have also been given the opportunity to develop as part of the project.

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